Totem Pole Carving
Bringing A Log to LifeBook - 1999
In this unique book, Vickie Jensen collaborates with renowned Nisga'a artist Norman Tait and his crew of young carvers to document the actual process of bringing a log to life.
First is the selection of the raw cedar log for the planned 42-foot totem pole. Then the arduous three-month-long process of designing and carving the huge log.
The intimate text and 125 photographs capture the charged atmosphere in which the pole is carved -- the smell of fresh cedar chips, the long days and the blistered hands, the camaraderie, the pride in solving problems, the ever-present awareness of tradition, the joy of creation.
Norman Tait teaches his apprentices that carving a pole requires more than time and labor, more than artistic and emotional commitment, more than a grasp of tools and techniques. The process involves their cultural background and very being. The apprentices must make their very own carving tools, design their own regalia, and practice traditional songs, dances and drumming. All these experiences culminate in the traditional ceremonies to celebrate the raising of the completed totem pole.